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Tough Luck

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Power Puff Girl | Message in a Bottle

Industry insiders are saying Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati is jinxed. Just when it seemed the filmmaker had pulled off a casting coup in landing Shahid Kapoor to play the third lead in his ambitious Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh starrer, now the rumour is that Bhansali may have lost Ranveer. According to the story being bandied about town, Ranveer reportedly asked Bhansali for a complete bound script before committing to the project, but the filmmaker balked, insisting that Ranveer sign the film in good faith. As of now, Ranveer may not be doing the film at all.

Rumours are abuzz that Bhansali has approached both Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan to play the lead. However, well-placed sources say this news is being circulated solely for the purpose of increasing the pressure on Ranveer to commit to the film.

But there may be more trouble brewing. There is some talk that the film’s funding too has become an issue, since its budget has ballooned. Eros, the studio that’s bankrolling Padmavati, has apparently asked the famously indulgent filmmaker to trim costs—particularly artiste fees, after Deepika’s publicists leaked that she’d been promised a whopping Rs 11.5 crore.

With all these troubles looming over the project, naysayers suspect the film may not happen at all now. No wonder Bhansali is said to be shopping another project around discreetly— one that he’s reportedly written for SRK and Kangana Ranaut.

Power Puff Girl

Anushka Sharma is now the only Bollywood leading lady with two Rs 300-crore films to her name. When Sultan crossed that milestone, entering the coveted club previously occupied by PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, it also put the actress in the enviable position of being possibly the only actress in a recent Salman Khan film to have a respectable role to speak of.

Next, Anushka stars opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Karan Johar’s Diwali release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, and she’s playing the lead in her own production Phillauri, which opens next March. By the time you read this, she’ll have taken off for Europe for Imtiaz Ali’s next, opposite Shah Rukh Khan.

Other than that, Anushka hasn’t signed any new project although there’s a film she’s circling which she’ll likely produce herself. Studios say she’s driven and hands-on when it comes to scripting and casting decisions on the projects she decides to produce. It’s unlikely that NH10 would’ve found a home at Eros if the project wasn’t shepherded by the actress. The same is apparently true of Phillauri, which was bankrolled by Fox Star Studios after Anushka chose to back the film.

Message in a Bottle

Close friends of a heartthrob star are disturbed by what appears to be a concerted campaign to malign the beloved actor, and specifically to portray him as an alcoholic. The actor, who has starred in no more than two Hindi films, became an overnight sensation and is being wooed by top names in the industry for their projects. He is reportedly already the golden boy of a top Bollywood producer who has snapped him up for a new romantic film opposite a stunning A-list leading lady.

But according to recent tabloid reports, the actor has developed a swollen head from all the success, and can’t seem to shake off his weakness for the bottle. Concerned pals and associates, however, insist there is no truth to the stories. It is no secret that the much- married, mild-mannered hero enjoys his drink but he has no addiction issues and no bloated ego, they clarify. The star’s camp has learnt that these rumours may have been spread by another young male actor, also married, and who, as it turns out, has old ties with the star. Doesn’t take a genius to deduce that the actor’s sneaky behaviour is a result of him being visited by the green-eyed monster as he watches his rival’s star soar.